The Influence of Student Poverty on Preschool Teachers' Beliefs about Early Literacy Development, School Readiness, and Family Involvement

Devitt, Suzanne E.
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According to the National Center for Child Poverty, in 2011 nearly half of the 72 million children in the U.S. were living in low-income families. Through this study, the author examined the effect that student poverty has on teachers’ beliefs about student print knowledge including school readiness and print literacy. Teachers’ beliefs were explored using a social justice framework that surrounds an explanatory sequential design. This mixed methods research helped me to identify whether or not teachers’ beliefs about students differ based on family socio-economic status (SES). The author of this study worked with a large urban school district located in the California Central Valley. The school district administers a Head Start preschool program and a California State preschool program. A total of 89 preschool teachers from these preschool programs participated in a Likert-style questionnaire. Participants were asked to share their beliefs about student print knowledge, school readiness, and parental involvement based on their 2016-2017 students. After collecting all questionnaires, 10 participants were interviewed to further investigate the effect of poverty on teacher’s beliefs about students and families. The overall findings of this study showed that poverty level thresholds between the two preschool programs did not appear to have an effect on participant’s beliefs regarding student print literacy, school readiness, and parental involvement. Participants were consistent in beliefs across both programs. Overall, participants were more positive in the areas of school readiness and parent involvement. Participants in both preschool programs were less positive in regards to student print literacy. .